The message went out to Ellen DeGeneres loud and clear. Despite poor weather conditions, hundreds of people gathered on Sunday, June 9, at the Cape Coral High School football field to douse themselves with ice water in honor of Cre8 Salon & Spa client Hilde Heard, who suffers from late-stage Lou Gehrig’s disease and longs to meet DeGeneres, her favorite celebrity.
Participants in #BringBackTheBucket lined up to spell out “E-L-L-E-N” on the field as they took the Ice Bucket Challenge, which was created to raise awareness of the disease also known as ALS. Drones and camera crews filmed the moment, all in an effort to grab the attention of DeGeneres and convince her to use her platform to bring more attention to the condition affecting an estimated 16,000 people in the U.S.
Heard made a surprise appearance. As she was brought to the center of the field in her wheelchair, the impact of the event hit home.
“Hilde is an inspiration to everyone she meets,” said Marcy Sagorac, co-owner of Cre8 Salon & Spa. “Her courageous battle against this deadly disease brings tears to my eyes. Ellen, if you’re listening, please come meet this amazing woman and join us in wiping out ALS!”
#BringBackTheBucket raised close to $2,000 for The ALS Association Florida Chapter through donations. Several community organizations stepped up to sponsor and support the event, including Sunshine Ace Hardware, Got Ice Inc., Target, the School District of Lee County, iHeartMedia, the Cape Coral Police Department, the Cape Coral Fire Department, iheartfilmstudios and CONRIC PR & Marketing.
ABC-7 anchor Jeff Butera served as master of ceremonies, calling out the countdown as participants stood on the field and dumped their buckets on their heads for a jolt of icy relief. Music from Y100 plus games and food trucks lent a festive atmosphere to the occasion.
“I’m overwhelmed by everyone who came out to make this wonderful day happen,” Sagorac said. “There was so much love on the field today. Now the goal is to make sure Ellen feels that love and gets involved in the fight for a cure.”